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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

UK's Monarch Airlines collapses after slump in pound's value

Collapse of low-cost airline leaves 110,000 customers stranded overseas

The UK's Monarch Airlines has ceased to operate, leaving 100,000 passengers stranded overseas. Oliver Berg / EPA
The UK's Monarch Airlines has ceased to operate, leaving 100,000 passengers stranded overseas. Oliver Berg / EPA

More than 30 aircraft will bring more than 110,000 holidaymakers back to Britain in the country's largest peacetime repatriation operation following the collapse of low-cost airline Monarch, the government said.

Monarch was the fifth biggest airline and the largest ever to enter administration, according to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority said.

Tough competition in the airlines sector has been putting pressure on weaker European carriers and driving consolidation, with Air Berlin and Alitalia filing for insolvency this year and seeking new investors for parts of their business.

Nearly 2,000 employees were laid off on Monday, while three quarters of a million people were left with booked tickets but no flights. Many holidaymakers turned up at airports on Monday morning to learn of the company's collapse.

"We're sorry to announce that Monarch has suspended flights and holidays," Monarch said on Twitter.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.

"That is why I have immediately ordered the country's biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.

Monarch said on Thursday it was talking to potential partners after a report that parts of its short-haul network would be sold.

The airline was founded in 1967, and while the number of paying customers increased in the last year by 14 per cent, the fall of the value of the pound had led to increased costs.

Management said the root cause of a £100 million fall in revenues was terrorist attacks in Egypt and Tunisia and the slump of the tourist trade in Turkey.